Paris Fitz-Henley was offered the role of Markle, the 36-year-old American actress who will marry Prince Harry, 33, on May 19.
Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance follows the fairytale romance of Prince Harry (Murray Fraser, The Loch) and Meghan Markle (Fitz-Henley, Midnight Texas) from the moment they met after being set up by friends, through their initial courtship when they were able to keep their romance under wraps, and ultimately the intense global media attention surrounding their relationship, and Markle’s life as a divorced American actress.
Global News spoke to Fitz-Henley and Fraser on playing Markle and Prince Harry, what viewers can expect from the movie and if they will be tuning into the royal wedding.
Were they nervous to take on the roles of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle?
“I wasn’t nervous taking it on. I was actually really excited just because I think she’s interesting. Later on, down the process I was like, ‘OK, this is going to have a lot of scrutiny.’ So I had these flashes of awareness sometimes,” Fitz-Henley said of playing Markle.
She added: “Thank God, for years of experience as an actor where you have an opportunity to learn how to let go of what you do and just do the best you can. Some people will love it, some people will hate it and that is a guarantee with anything you do. At this point, I feel just glad to be a part of it and grateful for the opportunity.”
Fraser said he was nervous because it comes with a lot of pressure knowing people will watch it and already have a perceived idea of how they think Prince Harry should be, how he should look and how he should sound.
“A lot of those thoughts were going through my head of whether or not I could do it or if it would be a good challenge. And we saw it as a good challenge. I had made it quite clear from the get-go, even when I was auditioning, I was never really wanting to be a copycat or have it be an impersonation of Prince Harry. I just really wanted to catch the essence of him,” Fraser said.
“I wanted to play the scenes I’ve been given as honestly and truthfully as possible as him, who is a human being rather than it just being a prince. I tried to take the pressure off myself and Parisa as well, playing Meghan. And as soon I as I had made that clear that, that was kind of the way I wanted to approach it, the directors and producers were all happy with that,” Fraser added.
Did they feel any pressure knowing that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle might watch the movie and many other people around the world with the royal wedding quickly approaching?
“I feel the challenge of knowing that we could be compared in real time, all the time. And that they might watch it sure, (laughs). I know that if I was watching someone portraying me I would probably think that it’s super weird,” Fitz-Henley said.
Fraser added: “As far as the aspect of them watching it, I try not to think about that one. It does come with a bit of pressure. I’m a bit of a social media recluse so I only have a Twitter and I barely go on it so I’m a bit more ignorant, I suppose, to all the kind of stuff that comes up. It’s one of those things I really tried not to think about when I was on set. I just went in and did my job and tried to make sure we were making it the best we could.”
Viewers can expect to see a lovely, sweet, romantic story unfold on screen
“It’s a lovely, kind of sweet, romantic story that will get a lot of people excited and looking forward to the royal wedding as well. It also doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to talking about different aspects of it. For example, when Harry came out with the statement to the media when the media was talking about Meghan’s ethnicity and racially charged stuff as well,” Fraser revealed.
“It was important to the directors and writers and everyone that we kept that kind of stuff in. And that we weren’t going to beat around the bush with that stuff and fluff around with it. The main thing is that it’s a nice, sweet, romantic story,” he explained.
The tone of Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance is serious and sweet
Fraser said the tone of the movie is a bit of both, serious and sweet.
“It’s got some lovely moments in there and it’s got some moments where it’s a bit more serious and dramatic.”
How was the chemistry between you two on set?
“With Parisa, she’s just so lovely to work with. From Day 1, even when we did the chemistry read for the audition, it was just quite clear that we were both very open with how we were approaching it. And we were pretty much on the same page. Every day we would go on set and after set we would go hang out and we’d talk about the script and got to know each other really well,” Fraser said of his co-star.
“It helped a lot because when we were on set we were always on the same page and we knew how we were going to approach it and it just made a really fun time. So when we were on set we weren’t wasting an hour talking about where we thought each other were with the script. I really enjoyed working together. Filming was so quick. Over the course of six to seven weeks, it was a real intense time, so it was really nice to have that chemistry,” he added.
“Murray is just such a warm and wise and engaging person. And I thought, ‘Well, this is somebody I’d love to work with.’ I’ve been really fortunate with meeting men actors, working over the years, and you know, when you have a gentleman across from you who is a professional. And that’s what you want, especially somebody that you have to work so closely with and I felt that from him . And I felt very grateful,” Fitz-Henley said.
Did Fitz-Henley watch Suits to prepare for the role of Markle?
I definitely watched some episodes of Suits that I hadn’t seen before,” she shared.
Did Markle have any mannerisms that Fitz-Henley picked up on?
“She certainly has ways of carrying herself that I put into my mind and you never want to mimic someone as an actor but you do want to take in what they do and think about why they do it. So there was certainly things that she does that I tried to translate,” Fitz-Henley said.
How did Fitz-Henley feel when Chrissy Teigen tweeted about the movie?
“I literally felt faint and my skin was buzzing. Because I adore her and I adore the way she moves through the world. So the idea of her wanting to see what we created just filled me with joy,” Fitz-Henley revealed.
Will they be watching the royal wedding on May 19?
“It depends where I am in the world, to be honest. I don’t know if I will wake up that early if I’m on the Pacific side of things, but if I miss it live, I’ll, at the very least, watch the highlights,” Fitz-Henley answered.
Fraser said he doesn’t know if he will watch it live. “It’s quite long. I saw that the coverage of it is five or six hours. I will watch the highlight reel.”
Fitz-Henley is excited to see Markle’s dress
“I’m excited to see her dress, I mean, Meghan knows how to capture beauty. And I’m a great appreciator of anything that is beautiful in the world and if you ever see my Instagram, I’m obsessing over flowers right now,” she said. “I was walking down the street and gasping at roses. I know her dress is going to be gasp-worthy and I just look forward to seeing it.”
What’s the one thing you would like people to take away from Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance?
“I want people to take away a fuller picture of Meghan. I think when you see her in the media, depending on who is focusing on her, it can seem as if she’s all about Suits or just an actress who gave up her career,” Fitz-Henley said.
She continued: “I think she is a woman of wisdom and depth who is just rolling out more of the career that she started when she studied international places and her studies of theatre, who has a tremendous future ahead of her because of who she is and not because of any title. I hope the viewers will have more of a glimpse into the different aspects.”
“I want viewers to take away that we weren’t trying to be copycats and that we were just trying to play them as human beings, that they are normal people just like everyone us. They just happen to live a very public life but we just tried to show a side of who they are, like everyone else really. They just happen to have this life they obviously haven’t chosen but Prince Harry got born into it,” Fraser said.
Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance airs on the W Network on May 19 at 8 p.m. ET/PT, as part of W’s Always and Forever movie event.
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